The Four Types of Non-Vaccinators (and How to Address Them)

The Four Types of Non-Vaccinators (and How to Address Them)
The Four Types of Non-Vaccinators (and How to Address Them)

According to new research, there are four types of people who decide not to vaccinate due to issues of complacency, convenience, confidence, and calculation. Findings from this study have been published in the journal Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Reviewing the literature on non-vaccinators, researchers put these individuals into four categories and came up with some recommendations to improve compliance:


People who do not care about immunization.


Change how information is relayed:

  • Campaigns that increase awareness about infection and strengthen positive attitudes towards vaccination
  • Stress the social benefits, position vaccination as the norm
  • Debunk the myths

Change vaccination policy:

  • Change opt-in systems to opt-out systems
  • Make vaccination mandatory
  • Fines for non-vaccination
  • Cash rewards for vaccination uptake


People who lack the willpower to vaccinate or face the inconvenience of cost and travel


Changes to the decision structure that facilitates the act of vaccination

Interventions that support self-control and follow through:

  • Asking people to pre-commit to vaccination
  • Issuing phone and SMS appointment reminders


People who possess incorrect knowledge that distorts their perceived risk of vaccination and weakens their trust in vaccinations


Exposure to information that debunks vaccination myths

Must come from trustworthy sources, like clinicians


People who weigh potential pros and cons of vaccination, and may not vaccinate when information is contradictory


  • Debunk the myths, increase awareness of the likelihood of infection, and stress the social benefits
  • Provide correct information to aid decision-making
  • Contradictory information may result in inaction so provide additional supportive information
  • Incentives may also be beneficial to calculating individuals

The authors conclude that confident individuals may be the hardest to persuade and that attempts to do so may backfire and increase vaccination resistance.

"Efforts should be concentrated on motivating the complacent, removing barriers for those for whom vaccination is inconvenient, and adding incentives and additional utility for the calculating," the researchers wrote. "These strategies might be more promising, economic and effective than convincing those who lack confidence in vaccination."

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